Even just short treatments of the Transformers commander cards winds up taking a lot of space, and I’m trying to be brief. By ‘brief’ I apparently mean ‘this is going to take a whole week,’ because yes, I only get through five more here!
Arcee, Sharpshooter is a red-white creature who looks like she’s designed to win combat. She has first strike and she can spend counters on her to deal damage to creatures. She could give up a counter at a time, to work with cards like Bellowing Aegisaur and Frilled Deathspitter, which plays into her long term tradition of dealing with stupid dinosaurs she needs to whallop on the nose.
Some stuff I had to shake my head out of: She doesn’t care if she’s targeted. She doesn’t care if the targeting happens on your turn. She doesn’t care about the mana value of the targeting card. All she cares about is the number of creatures and vehicles you control that got targeted. That means that she needs you to have other creatures, which I think pulls us towards multi-targeting buff spells, and heroic creatures. That’s right, Arcee’s going to Theros baybee!
Arcee also does something cute with Bestow; you can cast a Bestow creature onto her vehicle form, which gives her a +1/+1 counter and transforms her. Then, the next time you transform her into a vehicle, the bestowed creature falls off, and stands around on the battlefield like ‘what?’ This is different to if you Mutate onto her, where the mutated card will hang around on the vehicle and not care about that it’s stuck on an ‘illegal’ target. Those cards are one card now.
What I’d Look For: Stuff that makes Arcee bigger, but also ways to get multiple combat steps in one turn, with an evasive Arcee, so after she builds up, she doesn’t just wipe out one player on the spot and instead takes out the whole table.
Blaster, Combat DJ seems like he’s got a pretty clear set of possible groups. He could be built for red-green vehicles, with cards that crew everything for big swingy hits, or +1/+1 counter synergy or artefact creature synergy. I like the idea of shifting tokens around, and turning Blaster into a +1/+1 counter storage spot.
There’s a type of deck known as ‘dice factory’ that I like for this, where you spend your time building up things that care about counters on them, and get out of hand. It’s a chance to use some of the odder modular cards, like Arcbound Reclaimer, too.
What I’d Look For: Things that reward artifacts for stompy decks, and solid creatures, things that don’t mind dying, and ways to recur artifacts. I would try to avoid creatures that aren’t artifacts, just because that feels aesthetically pleasant to me.
Cyclonus, the Saboteur asks you build up three points of extra power on him, and then rewards you with extra upkeeps (and draws). The upkeeps are the things I find juicy. I mean, yes, okay, an extra upkeep and draw are cool but you can already have those in blue and black!
What I’d Look For: Cool upkeep triggers, global ways to grant power bonuses, cool tap abilities
Flamewar, Brash Veteran – wait a moment, who the heck’s this mean girl? Oh they added more girls to the lineup? Because G1 Transformers had exactly one girl? Yeah that is obviously bad when you say it like that. Alright, what is Flamewar… hm. Flamewar is a red-black card that sacrifices artifacts, gets counters, and is pretty challenging to block. But she can only transform back and forth once a turn, and she’s deliberately slow. You can’t sacrifice a lot of artifacts to her to get her real big then attack, you have to get one per turn. She is cheap, but she’s also really fragile.
Black and red don’t have any synergies with transformation – there’s a little bit of Incubate support in black, but white was really the place that stuff stayed. Black has a very small amount of Abzan +1/+1 counter support.
I think this means that the best thing you can do with Flamewar – well it’s probably some busted combo, but setting that aside, I’d look for artefact sacrifice synergies in red and black, and treat being able to draw cards off her over time a nice bonus. Hypothetically, she does get to grow slow and steady, and she can sacrifice token artifacts.
What I’d Look For: Artifact token creators, ways to protect her while she attacks, artefact protection spells
There’s a clear direction to Goldbug, Humanity’s Ally: He wants to support attacking humans. His More Than Meets The Eye Cost is very cheap, and means that he’ll never be attacking as a 1/3 if you can find any human in blue and white to support him. Now a note of rules is that you won’t be able to necessarily use him to pre-emptively protect a human spell: If you cast two spells, the second spell will still be counterable before the transformation trigger resolves.
Even with that, though, this projects a swarming, cantrippy, aggressive human deck that wants to go wide and find ways to protect the whole board. I’d look for spells that phase out my permanents, and oh boy, does blue and white have that. I’d also look for cheap humans. A big part of this kind of deck would be staying power. Sure, being able to deploy a giant cloud of 2/2s and 3/3s is great for dealing with a player at a time, this is for a multiplayer format and you could just get squished on the backswing.
I dunno, I can see Goldbug heading up a cool swarm deck, but I always feel like swarm decks are just waiting to have their entire world wrecked by a sweeper. I guess this is a rare space for Scapegoat to shine.
What I’d Look For: Cheap humans with interesting abilities that care about attacking, ways to recover from sweepers.